It’s been a long week since my last post when I was trying to distract myself from the thought of surgery the next day! I didn’t get through that next day without tears, but I did get through it! Very early start, lots of questions, tests, lovely gown, etc. but once the anaesthetist finally found a vein (yes, they are that bad) I don’t remember anything else until someone said a gentle ‘hello’ to my blearily open eyes in the evening. Surgery took 5.5 hours (longer than expected), and then an unpleasant night (with lovely nurses) followed. Friday was mostly checks and discussions as to whether I could go home (yes, you get sent home with drains in), and after more fun in trying to get bloods out before discharge, we got to leave just after 8pm!
The weekend is a bit of a blur of pain and sleep, but from Monday I started to be able to concentrate and move around a lot more – the drains are a pain, but my Mum has been here cooking for me, making my bed, washing my hair (all the things you don’t expect at 42, but I’ve been very grateful for), and I started to be able to read (I had already been on Facebook from Thursday evening, though had to abandon at speed when the nausea rose). Today is the first day I’ve not needed painkillers, so that’s good, and hopefully the drains will be out Friday, which will allow a lot more freedom and easier sleep – and then a couple of weeks grace before chemotherapy starts.
Over the past few weeks I’ve read a few books (a couple more to go), as well as managed to gently get out and about, so here’s some simple reviews (sorry, not as articulate as usual, I suspect!)
This was the first book that I read after my own diagnosis! Thought it gave really helpful insights into the emotional side of cancer, and how that’s as important to manage (with humour and any other appropriate emotion at the time), and included a bite-size range of terminology that has since become quite familiar. It did freak me out about a couple of things – but what is there not to freak one out about a cancer diagnosis to be honest! The bit I laughed wryly at was “it doesn’t take 3 people to tell you that you’ll be well” – I knew as soon as the breast care nurse was introduced by the consultant that it was not going to be good news! Important to understand the need to balance too much/too little info which I’ve held onto since.
I read this book whilst awaiting my own surgery date for mastectomy, and found it gentle, humorous and not hopeless. It deals with the reality of some aspects of treatment and suggestions to deal with some of them (left me questioning whether to bother with cold capping – still indecisive!). Tips related to food, keeping busy if that works for you – but accept that you won’t get loads done, ask for help, doesn’t ask ‘why not me’, learn to prioritise, Prosecco has better impact on hot flushes than red wine, and yeah, the steroids will increase your appetite … lots of useful links – and INGORE the stats, they are not helpful! Emphasises that later visits are appreciated as early diagnosis trying to process, and it’s a long road for which company is appreciated. Ended up chatting to the author on Twitter…
A gentle short e-book, with an introduction from Victoria Derbyshire (who is essentially highlighting her full book that’s coming), drawing upon some of the voices from her community. Some helpful thoughts and tips for one about to commence ‘the journey’, including what’s useful to take to chemo, and how to hold onto ‘the happy bits’
View all my reviews
Then I read…
Run for Your Life: How One Woman Ran Circles Around Breast Cancer by Jenny Baker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve had enough concentration today to actually read – having had a mastectomy last week. This book is written by a friend – bought it earlier this year not realising how resonant it would be. I have found it really helpful to read – recognising a whole load of the emotions, the shittiness, but also hanging onto hope. I ain’t gonna run my way through any of this but there’s lots helpful to those thinking others don’t understand, and for those who have friends who maybe don’t ‘get it’ too.
View all my reviews
and most recently I read:
The Silver Lining: An Insightful Guide to the Realities of Breast Cancer by Hollye Jacobs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book, and found it gave hopeful insights into what to expect following the authors desire to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I like her practice of seeking ‘silver linings’ every day rather than ‘woe is me’, and the sense that preparedness helped. Her ‘silver lining’ that (unusually) she experienced more side effects than most did that she can give insights into how to cope is certainly a positive one. Clearly the American context is different, but this was gently handled – does not shy away from the crap that is to come, but in the sense of ‘be practically prepared’ rather than ‘give up in the face of it’. Beautiful pictures too.
To leaven things a little I also read:
Multiple time of re-reading – perfect surgery recovery!
Well I can see why kids love this, and I enjoyed reading this in 60 minutes. Love children’s lit that takes the opportunity to challenge ‘the norm’ and allow feelings etc to be dealt with.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.